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Old 2nd July 2015, 08:31 PM   #1
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Default Somebody can identify this tube?

Since i accidentally broke one of my beloved Valvo L84 my only pair of 6bq5 is these old RCA with ENGLAND etched on the side.

I read stay away from the tubes who are supposedly Made in England. Do they are good? They sound nice anyway.

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Old 2nd July 2015, 08:41 PM   #2
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Could be an EL84. The smaller one ECC83 range? UK valves were considered the best in the world for quality.
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Old Yesterday, 12:59 AM   #3
Keit is online now Keit  Australia
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While a lot of English electronic parts (eg capacitors, germanium transistors not made by Mullard) were trash, like their cars, the tube makers in England (Mullard/Philips, GEC etc) made for the world market. Competing in the world market, they were as good as any. And Philips/Mullard had access to the best European and American knowhow.

RCA was known for engaging in cross-production and design-pooling with other tube makers around the world. This let each manufacturer economise by restricting production to the types most popular in their home market. And sometimes they purchased tubes from others, or sub-contracted out manaufacture of their own designs, if they could sell more than was convenient to make in existing factories.

RCA even purchased certain types from AWV in Australia, and did not make them themselves at all. Selling ice to Eskimos you would think.

So the brand (RCA, Philips, Valvo, etc) on the tube doesn't mean much. If you can take better photos, not over-exposed, showing more clearly the structures above the top and bottom micas, and any and all writing on the tube, date/factory codes, any inspection ports in the anode, we might be able to ascertain whose actula factory made it.

There are also in some cases electrical tests that can be done to help indentify the factory. For example some factories used what the US tube industry called "J-wire" (an alloy of tungsten and molybdenum) for heaters. Others used pure tungsten. J-wire and tungsten have similar not not identical current/voltage characteristics during warmup.

What you read in audiophile magazines about diffrences in sound between different brands is not always, but is mostly nonsense. For two reasons: Tube makers made for each other, and the sound is mostly determined by the circuit. Where a certain individual tube sounds different on test compared to another, it's usually because it is a different type, or one of them is faulty.

Chinese made tubes are another story. They never had access to American and European knowhow, and they deliberately cut corners. I avoid them. I prefer to track down Western NOS, or use Russian stuff if I can't get NOS.

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Old Yesterday, 10:15 AM   #4
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Aye--Looks like EL84. Generally speaking, British valves were good. Those made by Mullard or Philips are considered by many to be some of the best.

In valves, Philips = Mullard, as Philips owned Mullard for many years. Philips Eindhoven also made valves of equal quality, Philips had their own plant in Holland while Mullard had a huge place in Blackburn England.

The tiny etched codes that both Philips and Mullard imprinted near the base of the valve can determine the factory in which the valve was made.

Not completely sure, but I THINK that 'Valvo' were sometimes supplied by Philips and re-labelled. They are also excellent as are other good German makers like Telefunken and Siemens

Osram, GEC STC and some others were also top quality stuff.

Be aware though, Mullard did also buy in from other Co's such as Ei Yugoslavia I believe, and were marked, 'Foreign' instead of 'Made in Great Britain' Ive never had any specific issue with these old stock 'Foreign' made Mullard valves

Ive no idea what the current batch of re-badged Russian so-called, Mullard valves are like, but old-stock 60's/70's Russian Military valves are very good too, especially some of the sub-minuture wire-ended ones....
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Old Yesterday, 10:41 AM   #5
Keit is online now Keit  Australia
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Mullard was a private company started by Stanley Mullard. He made a lot of money selling tubes to the British Navy, then when military demand dropped post WW1, and advanced tube types like tetrodes that were beyond his technical capability cam on the market, he sold out entirely to Philips, and became a director on the board of the Mullard subsidury. Legally Mullard remained a legally separate company but wholey owned by Philips until Stanley died in about 1970, but engineering-wise were always closely integrated with Philips Holland. When Stanley died they renamed it Philips and terminated relationships with Mullard dealers.

I recall when they terminated their Mullard relationship with me. Their accountant department determined that I had paid a deposit on some parts I ordered, and sent a refund cheque. Even though I was also a customer known to Philips who would have had the same parts. Can't say I was impressed.

Philips believed in the system of "Centres of Excellence". For each product line, they would allocate their businesses in any part of the World to be a Centre of Excellence in something. For example Blackburn England - lead centre for consumer TV; Two-way radio - Australia; High end audio - Holland.

Valvo was a German subsidury of Philips, similar to Mullard in England, but with a little more independence.

Regardless of whether a given device or part is labelled Philips or Mullard or Valvo, you can regard it as identical - in quality and performance, except perhaps near the end of Western tube production, when they all started buying from factories in South America and Eastern Europe. And so near identical to the major US brands you can forget about it - the main difference is the type number - eg EL84 instead of 6BQ5.

Last edited by Keit; Yesterday at 10:57 AM.
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